Housing affordability is by far the biggest challenge we face in Vancouver. A lot has happened in the past month — and I want to share it with you.
The City has put forward 20 sites of city-owned land to partner with senior levels of government to build more affordable housing. The land is worth $250 million — the single biggest offer in the city's history, and quite likely in Canada. With matching funding, we could deliver more than 3500 new units of affordable housing. It would cover everything from social housing to new co-ops to new rental apartments and family housing.
We have got sites ready to go and could start building 500 units this year.
The first new Downtown Eastside "60/40" project - where 60% of the building is social housing, and the other 40% is market rental - was approved at the end of January. A lot of critics said you couldn't get social housing built without including condos - but this project proved them wrong. Thanks to a unique partnership with Wall Development and BC Housing, 172 new homes will give a big boost for affordable housing options in the Downtown Eastside.
Council approved a major new rental apartment building in Fairview- 118 new rental homes, in a neighbourhood with a 0.6% vacancy rate.
I spoke out yet again on the issue of speculation and flipping in Vancouver, and how it is distorting our housing market. I've said in the past and I'll continue to push it: the BC government needs to bring in a speculation tax to discourage short-term sales of housing that only serve to inflate prices.
The City is moving forward on modular housing, as a way to provide temporary homes to the homeless while we get new permanent housing built. Prefabricated housing has been effective in other cities and it is something we are looking at here as a way to make sure nobody has to sleep outside at night. We are looking to do a pilot project of 30 to 40 modular homes this year.
And finally, the BC Supreme Court rejected a case that tried to stop a new rental apartment from being built in the West End. The judge sided with the City, which is good news for renters - the building will deliver 178 new rental homes, including 26 apartments renting at 20% below market rate.
There's no single solution to housing affordability in Vancouver, but at City Hall, we're going to keep moving forward with every tool at our disposal